Liphook Golf Club’s Darren Walkley suffered heartbreak on countback for the second time in a year, as he missed out on the biggest win of his amateur career by a whisker.

Walkley, who regained his amateur status two years ago, lost out by virtue of a worse score in the Hampshire Hog, as Essex’s Jackson Garnett claimed the Hampshire Salver.

The Five Lakes GC member shot an excellent 67 in the second round at Fleet’s North Hants GC to pip Walkley – last year’s beaten finalist in the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship.

Walkley said: “I don’t like losing on countback. In the professional ranks you always have a play-off when two or more are tied at the top.

“I have no problem if I lose in a play-off – I just think it’s a fairer way of deciding the big titles, not who had the best score over the last three, six, nine, 12 or 18 holes.

“It was the same at the county championships last summer. I know I have said I play to enjoy myself, but when I am out there, I am trying to win – nothing else.”

Walkley was also denied the Pechell Salver in June, again by virtue of the countback.

Walkley finished fourth at Blackmoor in the Selborne Salver, with a level-par total after shooting 68, 70. That was three behind St Neot’s GC’s England junior squad member Oliver Toyer, who became the first Cambridgeshire winner in the competition’s 47-year history.

While insisting he now plays for fun, Walkley would love to join the likes of Ryder Cup players Ross Fisher, Gordon Brand Junior, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick on that Selborne honours board.

Having lost a play-off to England junior Zac Little 12 months ago, Walkley was confident he could go one better this year.

He trailed by three shots at lunch having made four birdies and three bogeys in the first round over the East Hampshire heathland track.

But the putts didn’t drop before or after lunch and he approached the turn having made eight pars in a row in round two.

The frustration got to him as he made three bogeys in a row from the ninth, only to bounce back brilliantly with a two at the short 12th followed by a birdie at the par-five 13th.

He parred home to lose out to an England youngster for the second year in a row as Toyer made three birdies to go with three dropped shots in his level-par 69.

Walkley added: “I hit it really well in the morning and was really happy with a 68 – I thought I could do it after lunch, but the putts just did not drop.

“I had four three-putts – two in each round. I could not make anything. I thought I could shoot 67, which would have been another play-off.

“I was putting from the fringe quite a lot, making it hard to judge the speed.”

By Andrew Griffin